EdSource is criticizing the California Department of Education’s decision to delay releasing test score data from last spring until later this year — possibly after November’s election — and says that educators, policymakers, parents, and the public need the information sooner, not later.
The Oakland-based nonprofit, which reports on California education issues, said that the state historically has released the SBAC results ahead of other assessments. But education officials say this year they want to hold the data and release it with other testing data for the California School Dashboard later this year.
Lance Christensen, who is running against state Superintendent of Instruction Tony Thurmond on the November ballot, told EdSource: “The fact that the department is not willing to publish now suggests that scores will be lower and the current state superintendent does not want to be held accountable for the results.”
However, districts such as Fresno Unified School District have already made public the results of last year’s testing in the Smarter Balanced Assessments, or SBAC, in reading and math, as well as alternate test results for students with disabilities, English language learners, and the California Science Test.
In Fresno, the results were dismal. Thirty-two percent of the students tested met or exceeded standards in English language arts, and 21% met or exceeded standards in math. A total of 35,620 students in grades 3 through 8 and grade 11 participated in the SBAC testing, the district reported in a recent board communication.
Drop from 2018-19 Testing
By comparison, in the 2018-19 school year — the last year in which grades 3 to 8 and 11 in Fresno Unified were all tested — 38% met or exceeded standards in English, and nearly 30% met or exceeded standards in math. Students were not tested in the spring of 2020 because schools were closed due to the pandemic, and only 11th graders were tested last year.
In the California Alternate Assessment, which is administered to students with significant cognitive disabilities, 5% met or exceeded standards in English and 3% met or exceeded standards in math, Fresno Unified reported.
On the California Science Test, which was administered to all students in grades 5, 8, 11, and/or 12, 17% met or exceeded standards, the district reported
On the Summative English Language Proficiency Assessment for California (ELPAC), which is administered to all English language learner students in grades K-12, 9% of the Fresno Unified students tested scored a 4, the grade that is required to reclassify students from English learners.
Data Critical to Address Learning Gaps
The EdSource story notes that the sooner the testing results are released, the sooner parents and the public can make informed choices about how to address learning gaps caused by the pandemic. In addition, school districts need statewide data so they can study and learn from comparisons with other districts and the state averages.
To read the EdSource story, click here.
Kelly Avants, spokeswoman for Clovis Unified School District, said that teachers and parents have been provided data for individual students, and instruction is being structured for each student based on that data.
The district plans to present the SBAC data to the board at the November Student Achievement Workshop, she said in an email to GV Wire.
“We’re hopeful that by November the state will have also released the data so we can have comparative context to also discuss,” she said.
Gilbert Magallon of Central Unified School District said that SBAC scores were recently reported to parents but have not been made public yet.
“We will provide a Board presentation later in the semester that includes that information,” he said in an email to GV Wire.
Breaking Down Test Scores by Schools
Fresno Unified reported SBAC, CAST, and ELPAC scores by region, individual schools, grade levels, and student groups.
On the SBAC, Filipino students had the highest percentage of meeting or exceeded standards in English at 64% and in math at 44%, Students with disabilities had the lowest percentage of meeting or exceeding standards in English at 8%, and homeless students the lowest percentage in math at 6%, the district reported.